In January, the Navy finally started the installation phase of their long awaited Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) equipment onboard the USS Milius (DDG 69). This is the program that will consolidate multiple unique shipboard networks and hardware requirements to reduce security vulnerabilities, maintenance costs and to improve interoperability between systems. Basically, it is just new equipment and standardized installations: something the Navy sorely needs.
Transitioning the ships to this Common Computing Environment is required before anything cloud-related can even be considered. All the wonderful new capabilities that these cloud-based solutions provide cannot be implemented on the current Navy network configurations. Today, there are over 600 baselines onboard 300 ships!
Like most military acquisition programs, it’s taking forever to implement. The CANES acquisition is based on a 2008 requirements document. To foster competing ideas and innovation, the Navy initially funded two CANES baselines in 2010 to Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin. In early 2012, the Navy down-selected to the Northrop Grumman design. After a few months of delays as the inevitable protest was resolved, the production phase finally began.
Putting stuff onboard a ship is obviously complicated. You have to first get the ship to pull into port for months at a time, and then you have to make sure that everything you put on board works well with the other equipment installed. Ultimately, the CANES network will be deployed to more than 180 ships, submarines and Maritime Operations Centers. This could take a decade if there are no significant budget constraints. Best case: all the ships will be CANES equipped by 2023.
OPNAV N2/N6 states that CANES is his number one priority, so I am hopeful that the installations will stay on track. Sequestration and continuing resolutions threaten the process, but the Navy appears to be inclined to cut other maintenance and deployments BEFORE impacting the CANES installs. In fact, CANES appears to be receiving a respectable piece of the Navy’s budget pie for next year. $2.1B is funded in the Presidents Budget for 2014.
Sometime next month we expect to see the Request for Proposal for the next phase. A draft RFP has been on the street since March. The new procurement for CANES for full deployment production units will expand and build on those 2008 requirements and be able to take advantage of the cloud solutions that are so enabling in today’s data-heavy environments. If only there was a way to make it go FASTER!
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